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The Heresy
The Heresy

The Heresy

Franc68Lorient Montaner

A green Rolls-Royce limousine had arrived at the Abernathy Castle, with several guests inside who were escorted to the estate. They had been invited to the revealing of the inheritance of Lord Bryce Abernathy, who they were told had recently died, due to the complications of an unknown disease. All of the guests were supposed heirs to the Abernathy fortune amassed, because of their kindred relationship with the baron. The mysterious death of Lord Abernathy would not only stir the curiosity of the guests, but as well haunt them during their stay. Not one of them would ever imagine that their arrival was the precursor to a death sentence that was deemed by the laird of the castle. What was lurking within the midst of the mystery was an untold story that would involve the darkest secrets of an evil that was unprecedented in its unrelenting horror. The year recorded was 1945.

The ancient castle was nestled amidst the Scottish Highlands of Perthshire, upon the north bank of the dale near the river on the western edge of the village of Weem, which was west of Aberfeldy. It was a three-storey structure with wrought sculptured dormer heads and angle turrets, round bartizans, a baronial west wing and east wing, a walled garden of colourful orchards, a huge terraced rubble-walled enclosure, an arched stairway that linked the terraces, an illustrious coat of arms that was a golden eagle with penetrating eyes and a sharp beak, a curling pond that was nigh, and the castle had the scenic backdrop of the vast forest with oak and larch trees that stood from afar. The castle was erected on a central block corner with towers, at diagonally opposite ends that were demonstratively transparent in their configuration.

The guests would marvel, with the architectural design of the castle and its outwards appearance. There was eeriness that was pervading over the castle's entrance. It was as if something or someone was watching them, as they had entered with a measure of discretion. Once inside, they were greeted by an individual whose name was Mr Barclay. He was the main solicitor, who was in charge of the personal affairs of the castle and especially, the will of Lord Abernathy, who was the rightful owner of the castle. Mr Barclay was present to not only welcome the guests, but to reveal the disclosure of Lord Abernathy's distribution of wealth. It was not known to any of the guests who had arrived, what was the full extent of the inheritance that each would be bestowed by the baron.

The following are the descriptive features of each guests. There was the Canadian Mr Ralph Mathews, a professor, who was of average height and built. His short hair parted to one side and eyes were brown. The American, Mr Robert Patterson a doctor, who was lanky and stature and built. His short hair and eyes were dark. The Englishwoman, Miss Ashley Ashborough, a teacher, who was short and thin in stature. Her long hair was blond, and her eyes were sapphire. As for the two Scotsmen, one was a distinguishable businessman, the other a numismatist. Mr Alistair McCray, who was medium height but round. His short hair was brown, and his eyes were blue as a turquoise. Finally, there was Bram Callister, who was tall and stout. His short hair was dark, and his eyes were too.

Mr Barclay would gather them all in the Main Hall where he would discuss with them, the reason they were summoned in the first place. It was not a mere coincidence that they were selected, and their presence at the castle was predestined without their knowledge.

'Now that you are all present here at the castle, we can begin the procedure for the establishment of the will'.

'Will you explain to us Mr Barclay, what should we be expecting?' Asked Dr Patterson.

'That was exactly my question,' said Mr Calister.

'Within the passage of a week, I suspect that I shall have the will completed'.

'Why all the mystery, Mr Barclay?' Mr Mathews enquired.

'There is no mystery Mr Mathews. As a learnt man that you are, surely, you realise that there is a formal process that takes precedence over the mere signing of a will'.

'You mean legal matters?'

'Yes indeed!'

'When that time has elapsed, we shall be apprised of the inheritance?' Insisted Mr McCray.

'Patience Mr McCray. In time, you will definitely know'.

'Because I am a woman, will that mean that I am at a clear disadvantage amongst you, men?' Miss Ashborough asked with a certain intrigue.

'Not all! I don't see why you being a woman will inhibit your place in the inheritance, Miss Ashborough', stated Mr Barclay.

'It seems that we don't have much of an option but to wait,' Mr Patterson replied with sarcasm.

'What do we do in the meantime?' Miss Ashborough asked.

With an expressive grin on his countenance, Mr Barclay, the solicitor told them all, 'Enjoy your stay at the castle. You are all invited guests. I am afraid I must be leaving now. I shall return within the week. You will be tended by the servants of the castle, who I have instructed to adhere to your needs.'

When Mr Barclay had departed, the guests had begun to wander and observe their immediate surroundings. What they had seen was the uncluttered interior of the castle, the wide turnpike stairs in one of the towers, the Main Hall, the Great Hall, the withdrawing room that entertained the guests, the gallery that was decorated with the finest paintings of the Abernathy lineage, the fine tapestries and rugs that had dated from the 17th century, the Baroque style chairs and tables, the lit chandeliers, the lustre of the Georgian panelled-wood of the walls, the armoury, the entranceway with its sturdy iron gate, the three upper floors, the unique flight of stairs, the pulchritudinous plasterwork ceiling, the furnishings of the Halls, the adjacent Ante-room, the wooden beams of the roof that had extended to the eaves, the Tyrian draperies, the hearth in the kitchen, the fireplace in the Main Hall, the two vaulted cellar rooms with thick stone floors and walls.

After the thorough observation of the castle, some of the guests had remained inside, whilst others had gone outside to enliven their spirits. They had conversed amongst themselves, about what were their actual expectations. How could they conceive the daunting thought that at the end of a week or before that, only one would be left standing to witness and survive the absolute horror of the castle? The intrigue to know more about the mystery of the inheritance was occupying the minds of the guests. Scotland was a land full of primordial history and legacy. It had strived amidst its adversities with douth and pride. The baron whose ancestry was embedded in the area had emerged from those persistent strifes. The guests had come from distant or adjoining lands, to claim what they had assumed was entitled to them.

That night, the constant barking of the hounds would be heard by the guests, as they had attempted to sleep in their rooms provided. Something profound had stirred the hounds to react. They were the obedient keepers of the castle. Not many of the guests would sleep well, despite their accommodations. There was no electricity within the main areas of the castle utilised. The illumination in the different areas was displayed by either the chandeliers, lanterns or lamps they were situated in every corner of the rooms upstairs and downstairs throughout the castle. The lack of visible light had made it uncomfortable and distressing for the guests, who were not accustomed to such a strange setting, in the midst of hovering clouds that would cover the entirety of the landscape around the castle in an unwelcoming gloom.

When the morning had arrived, the guests had gathered to have breakfast. It was after breakfast that they began to talk, about the incessant barking of the hounds in the Main Hall. They all had concurred about the bizarre nature of the barking.

'I have never experienced, such a restless night than the previous one', Mr Patterson acknowledged.

'Neither have I, and I am British,' said Miss Ashborough.

'What does that have to do with the barking?' Mr Mathews insisted.

'It is evident that neither one of you, are accustomed to the countryside of Scotland', Mr Callister professed.

'Are you suggesting because we are foreigners, we are naive persons?' Dr Patterson asked with intrigue.

'Not at all, Dr Patterson'.

'I believe that what Mr Callister was attempting to explain was the fact that this part of Scotland is known for its eeriness. Its isolation and the castle can be very intimidating to some people', Mr McCray expressed.

'What are we do with those wretched hounds?' Miss Ashborough asked.

'There is not much we can do for the moment. We could tell the servants to quiet them, but that will not be a solution,' Dr Patterson interjected.

'We are here for a whole week. I suggest that we do what Mr Barclay had mentioned, enjoy our time at the castle with leisure', Mr Callister said.

Thereafter, they had convened in the gallery to observe the peculiar paintings that were hung of the Abernathy lineage. There was one in particular that had arrested their attention. It was a unique painting of Lord Abernathy. Not one of the guests had prior knowledge that they were directly related to the baron. From amongst them would be the last scion of the Abernathies. The painting had defined a stately man with baronial refinement and aura. His eyes of imposition were what had impressed the guests. There was so much that was known about him, and yet the mystery about his death persisted. However, none of the guests had actually ever met him in person. To them he was a man of anonymity, who had amassed a great fortune in his life. It was his repute that was questioned by his numerous enemies. Lord Abernathy was not buried, at the Old Kirk of the village of Weem. Instead, he was buried in an unmarked place with a nameless headstone.

The rest of the day, the guests had spent it knowing more about each other. Even though, they were related in kinship, they were practically strangers, who had not met before. They had shared what was in common between them and at the same time, what was different about their lives. There was an evidence of suspicion and to some smaller degree distrust that was concealed by the insecure guests towards each other. After all, they were in competition for the wealth of Lord Abernathy. There was not a preference that was overtly demonstrated that one of them was the clear favourite to earn the greater part of the inheritance. The riveting plot of this narrative would be entrammelled, by the uncertainty of the bestowment of the inheritance with its revelation.

What was obvious was the fact that the enigma that was dwelling within the castle was a thing that was unknown in its horror and insidious in its essence. Ultimately, it would consume many of the guests to apprehension and the terrible consequences of death. The situation was never intended to be understood as rational or believable, when the origin of this malevolence was predestined from their arrival to the castle. The inheritance of the baron would only be a pretext to the sinister deception employed to bring them there in the first place. What was planned would never be realised by the guests, until their ominous fate had been determined. There were haunting secrets that the castle had preserved for the guests that would result, in the disturbing scenes of heartless acts displayed towards human beings.

Each one of the guests at the castle had an impression on their minds of what could transpire with the disclosure of the will, and the possibilities of being rewarding with some type of inheritance that was beyond satisfactory. The servants were obedient, but they would not divulge any information about the baron in elaborate details. It was not certain, if they were instructed to keep silent and avoid talking about him. The castle was indicative of the baron's proclivities for art and for priceless objects that he had cherished with tremendous worth. His untimely death was what was still a mystery to the guests. The one thing that was confirmed about him was that he had an heir in mind for his legacy, although that legacy was shrouded in the surreptitious mist of darkness.

Around the dinner table they were seated all, as they had waited for their dinner to be served. During that time, they began to indulge themselves with the secret nature of Lord Abernathy. It was the main topic of their conversation.

'The more time that I spend in the castle, the more I sense the coldness pervade throughout the halls,' Miss Ashborough stated.

'Indeed! I too have felt this cold draft enter my room and body,' Mr Mathews replied.

'Maybe it is me, but I can't seem to shake off the weird nature of the castle and its inexplicable sounds,' confessed Dr Patterson.

'Sounds you say, Dr Patterson. Such as?' Mr Callister enquired.

'You hear them too?' Miss Ashborough acknowledged.

'You mean the bloody hounds?' Mr Callister asked.

'No! I mean the echoic whispers of daunting voices,' Mr Mathews professed.

'I too have heard them!' Dr Patterson uttered.

'I am certain that there is a logical explanation for these sounds of whispers that you hear. It was most likely the wind from outside blowing it birr,' proclaimed Mr McCray.

'If it was the wind as you say Mr McCray, would not the intensity of the sound manifest more strongly than a whisper?' Dr Patterson insisted.

'Whatever it was, I doubt that it was intended to frighten us', Mr McCray responded.

'I have the creepy impression that this castle is hiding the past of Lord Abernathy', Dr Patterson admitted.

'What are you suggesting doctor?' Mr Callister asked.

'I only find it strange that we were invited to this castle to spend a week, until the will of the baron is disclosed. We are not allowed to leave the grounds of the castle, without permission.'

'In due time, you shall all have your answers,' interrupted the main servant in charge, who had overheard their conversation at length.

She had given them all silver rings, with precious rubies to wear on their right index finger. They were told specifically to not take them off at any time. When asked why, the servant Mrs Baldrige an elderly woman had replied by saying that there would be dire consequences. She did not elaborate with her portentous words. It was merely a stern admonition to heed its message. The selected rings were the precursor to the horrendous sequence of events that would ensue afterwards. The first of the unpredictable deaths would occur on that indelible night of horror. It was a death that would discompose the miens of the guests, who would witness the macabre scene in person. It was also the night, when the guests would be confronted with the evil that was inside the Abernathy Castle.

Whilst they were sleeping in their chambers, the hounds of the castle were barking once more. It was loud enough to upset one of the guests to react. Mr Mathews had risen from his bed and promptly dressed himself. He would head towards the location of the hounds, with a disgruntled expression on his countenance. His intention was to silence the hounds. When he could not find any of the domestic servants around, he would take matters into his hands. It was late at night—close to midnight, when this occurrence would take place. After he was unable to alert the servants, he then contemplated hushing the beasts with his words, but when he had stepped outside and began to scream at the hounds, they would immediately attack him without mercy. Somehow the ferocious hounds were released. They would knock Mr Mathews to the ground and kill him.

A loud scream was heard coming from the vicinity. It was the harrowing scream of death. The scream had reached the ears of the other guests, who would exit their rooms to check on what was betiding. Mrs Baldrige would notify them of the unfortunate death of Mr Mathews. The guests that had remained were stupefied with the horrific nature of Mr Mathew's tragic death. No one amongst them had anticipated his sudden demise. Naturally, the guests had expected for the hounds to be shot for their savage act. However, Mrs Baldrige would not agree with them. She would blame Mr Mathews for seeking the hounds, when he fully was aware that they were not to be confronted. This accusation would not go unnoticed by the others. It would leave some of them indignant, and others befuddled.

'How can you justify such a ridiculous remark Mrs Baldrige?' Dr Patterson asked.

'It was not my intention to blame Mr Mathews. I was simply explaining to you all that the hounds are not to be screamed at'.

'How indifferent you are Mrs Baldrige. That poor fellow Mr Mathews did not deserve to be attacked or murdered,' Miss Ashborough declared.

'Of course, he did not Miss Ashborough. You have misunderstood my words'.

'I believe we have understood all that we need to know about what you think, Mrs Baldrige,' Dr Patterson responded.

'Enough of accusing each other. It will not bring back to life Mr Mathews,' Mr Callister interjected.

'I agree with Mr Callister. Forgive Mrs Baldrige, for she is only a servant of the castle. She is only doing her duties,' Mr McCray said.

'We cannot allow the hounds to remain. They are violent in their hostility toward us,' Dr Patterson urged.

'Killing the hounds will not solve anything, Dr Patterson', Mr Callister acknowledged.

The next morning, the recent death of Mr Mathews was discussed amongst the guests. It was evident that they were still affected. The emotions were stirred, and their thoughts were confounded by the atrocious incident. It was inescapable and unforgettable. The discomfort of the castle would persist them with each death. They had become unwilling pawns to the despicable game of life and death that was being played before them like a written script. The death of Mr Mathews was presumed to be an unfortunate circumstance that was provoked, by his confrontation with the untamed hounds of the castle. Unbeknownst to them, there would be another senseless death that would occur on the day after Mr Mathew's death. It would cause even more consternation amongst the guests.

This time, it would be Mr McCray, who would meet his ghastly death. He was at the edge of the stairway on the third storey, when he had abruptly fallen over the stairway and landed on the first storey. His neck would be broken and facing the other direction. The terrible image of his gruesome death would horrify the onlookers who were the guests. Dr Patterson who was a proficient doctor would tend to him. The others had seen his fall as he had screamed. There was nothing that the doctor could have done to save him. Deep shock was witnessed in their genuine expressions. They had assumed it was a horrid accident, but was it really an accident? Did someone or something push Mr McCray over the stairway deliberately? No person was descried near him. The sight of Mr McCray's dislocated neck had caused Miss Ashborough to faint. Dr Patterson would tend to her at once.

'Poor Mr McCray. What a horrible way to die!' Mr Callister had said.

'I have never seen in all my years as a doctor, two horrendous deaths like those of Mr Mathews and Mr McCray,' said Dr Patterson.

'Will Miss Ashborough be all right doctor?' Mr Callister asked.

'I believe so! Once she comes around'.

Miss Ashborough would awaken to find herself lying in the bed of her guest room with Dr Patterson, 'What happened?'

'You fainted!'

Her hands were shaking, 'I did! Now I remember. Oh doctor it was terrible to see Mr McCray lying there stone dead with his neck contorted'.

'I was just as disturbed as you were Miss Ashborough. It is better that you rest'.

'But how can I, when there have been two deaths in the span of two days? What if I shall be next?' Her anxiety had intensified.

'There is no need to fret. Both of those deaths were caused by circumstances of which can be naturally explained'.

'What if this castle is truly haunted, and we are doomed?'

'I would rather believe that not be the case'.

As the evening and night would progress its course, the peculiar sound of lightning and thunder was heard. There was a storm that was approaching the area of the castle from the distance. Whilst they were seated in the withdrawing room, glancing outside of the window, the three guests had attempted to occupy their time with the disclosure of the will and the significance of the rings. It was clear to them that the inheritors were fewer than those that had originally arrived. Why were they not permitted to remove the ruby rings? The question that was looming in their minds to be answered was, was this all planned from the beginning? If so, then who was behind this notorious plan? What if the mastermind or the culprit was one of the remaining guests, who was utilising a duplicitous scheme? It was difficult to know from them, who could be that heartless conniver.

Back in his room, Dr Patterson was pondering about the unusual circumstances of the deaths of Mr Mathews and Mr McCray. As a doctor, there was a logical explanation. However, the mystery surrounding the castle was something that was connected to the events that were occurring with an alarming suspense. He had tried to rationalise them. His intuition had told him that the servants, including Mrs Baldrige knew about this enigma that had evaded his acute awareness. How could he convince her to reveal more details about the life and death of Lord Abernathy? The drear and dull isolation of the castle was starting to affect the three remaining guests, who were nervous about their present situation. The distrust they had was causing them to be watchful of each other's behaviour.

Three days would pass, and the guests were mindful about their actions, but so were another pair of piercing eyes. The inheritance was the only thing that had kept them there at the castle. Was it perhaps their greed that would condemn them to their death or was it their curiosity to discover the truth about the mystery of Lord Abernathy? Miss Ashborough, Mr Callister and Dr Patterson were outside of the castle refreshing themselves. They were still not allowed to leave the estate. There was something that had arrested the attention of Mr Callister, as he stared up at one of the imposing towers of the castle. He would point and tell the others that he has seen the lone figure of a man standing in one of the towers above them. When the others had looked up at the tower, they did not see anything or anyone there. Was there really someone there or did Mr Callister mistake the image for a person?

The more that they had spent at the castle, the more that their minds were distressed with the predicament that was unfolding. The concern was a valid one, because they were experiencing abnormalities that were uncommon in their manifestations. Dr Patterson had managed to speak to Mrs Baldrige alone. He was interested in asking her about the baron's death. The doctor had noticed that the answers to his questions would depend on her attitude. He knew that he had to outwit her, if he was to achieve his objective. Thus, he had waited for her at the end of the Main Hall to pass, before he would ask to speak her in privacy. Mrs Baldrige was a bit surprised to see the doctor and know of his request. Despite the doctor's insistence, she would accommodate him.

'What exactly do you wish to speak to me Dr Patterson?'

'It is not my intention to pry into the matters of others, but I was curious about the death of Lord Abernathy'.

'I am afraid I can't reveal much more in details about his death than what has been said before publicly, doctor.'

'I have read the articles about his death, but what I don't quite understand is what contributed to his illness. Even the doctor who did the report could not determine the cause to his death'.

'You must realise that I am just a servant, doctor. These things, that are medical, are beyond my comprehension'.

'Yes, I'm aware of that fact. Since what I was told, you have been here at the castle for years. You were here during the life of the baron'.

'That is true!'

'Then you would have noticed his illness and deterioration?'

'Even if I did doctor I repeat, I could not tell you anything more than what has already been said about his death'.

'You could at least acknowledge, if he was pale in his complexion or was erratic in his behavior before his death'.

'Perhaps he was doctor, but as you know I cannot comment on things that do not involve me. Now if you will excuse me, I have duties that I must maintain'.

'By all means. Proceed!'

Dr Patterson was not that convinced that Mrs Baldrige was unaware of the baron's declining health. As the person in charge of the servitude, she would have been informed about such a delicate matter. Unfortunately, the doctor had failed on obtaining any pertinent information divulged about the baron's death. He had accentuated the need to discover the truth. As he was alone in his contemplations, he began to wonder about the baron's life style. He was not willing to prescind this aspect of the baron. Thus, he began to search for any possible evidence that he could find within the castle about him. Whilst the others where in the Main Hall distracted, he had opened the door that led to the cellar below. There he had discovered printed articles of newspapers that mentioned the death of Lord Abernathy, but there was something in particular that would shock the American doctor.

Dr Patterson had discovered that the baron had reportedly committed suicide, after brutally murdering his invited guests. Apparently, he has gone made and had killed these people who were present in the castle at the time. If this was accurate, then, it would contradict the version of his cause of death that was told to the public, including the guests at the castle. The suspense to the narrative would increase with the bizarre nature of his death. It was also reported that he had been suffering from sporadic episodes of delusions and hysteria. Dr Patterson thought to himself, how was this related to the mysterious circumstances that were betiding within the castle? There was no mention of any inheritance or inheritors, and yet, he and the others were invited to partake in the revealing of the will. Was the will devised before he has become insane, or was there someone else that had planned the will on his behalf?

Dr Patterson had thought of Mr Barclay. He was cognisant that he would be the one who would reveal the will. Mr Barclay had said that he would not return until a week or so. Was he somehow involved in this contriving scheme? Were the guests unwilling participants? These important questions would remain in the mind of the doctor. There were two deaths, and three guests that were still alive. None of which would know of the origin of the evil that had resided in the castle. The doctor had asked Mrs Baldrige to call on Mr Barclay to come, so that he and the others could speak to him in person. It was vital. He was told afterwards that Mr Barclay had left the area for the nonce. There was no particular reason or explication that was given for his absence. Dr Patterson instinctively had questioned the timing of Mr Barclay's departure.

He had returned to the company of the others, whereupon he had discussed with them the absence of Mr Barclay. He did not reveal to them the finding of the articles of the newspaper. Simply, he did not want to alarm even more the others, who were already unsettled by the sequence of events that had transpired with the deaths of the other guests. To the doctor there was something odd about the whole situation. First the death of Mr Mathews, then the death of Mr McCray. To compound the matter, there was the unfolding mystery about the baron that was yet resolved. What would ensue afterwards on that day would be even more disturbing in its consequential relevance. Another death would befall upon the remaining guests, and then there would be left just two.

They were in front of the fireplace of the main hall talking, when the sparkles of the fire were stirred enough to cause the ignited fire to reach the clothing of Mr Callister. His clothing would burn instantly, and so would the entirety of his body. By the time that the others would attempt to extinguish the flames that were consuming Mr Callister it was too late, for he was dead on the floor. He had suffered an agonising death. His horrible scream would echo throughout the castle. The reaction in the others was noticeably of utter disbelief. Shock was expressed on their faces, and it would discompose Miss Ashborough, as she had a sudden convulsion. Dr Patterson had tended to her and had sedated her to calm her. It was a sobering reality they had to accept and comprehend. The doctor had removed Miss Ashborough from the scene, taking her to another room that was on the other side of the castle, where Mr Callister had died.

Once she was calmer, he began to talk to her, 'Miss Ashborough, it is Dr Patterson. How do you feel?'

'I can't believe that this is all happening to us. Are we the next ones to die?'

'I don't know!'

'Why don't we leave doctor? Get away before it is too late! Forget the inheritance!'

'I was thinking the same thing!'

'Then, what are we waiting for?'

Dr Patterson and Miss Ashborough had headed for the front door to flee from the inescapable horror that was tormenting them from the onset. The thought of staying any longer at the castle was unbearable and it was affecting their sanity. As they were heading out of the door, Mrs Baldrige had seen them departing. She had asked them where they were going in such a haste that was unannounced. They ignored her and continued forth. Once outside, Dr Patterson had seen a car approaching the castle. It was Mr Barclay. He had come to speak to the remaining guests. When he had descended from the car, he was puzzled to see both Dr Patterson and Miss Ashborough standing in such an agitated state of mind. He had attempted to pacify their anxiety sufficiently to be able to understand their words.

'What is troubling the both of you? And what are you both doing outside?'

'You know what is going on, but you remain silent. You knew from the beginning that this would happen!' Miss Ashborough uttered with anger.

'I am afraid that I don't understand what you are talking about,' replied Mr Barclay.

'Stop playing games with us solicitor. There have been three deaths here, and there is something sinister that is occurring that you must have knowledge of its nature,' Dr. Patterson interjected.

'Are you insinuating doctor that I am to be blamed for three deaths that were accidental from what I was told'.

'And who told you this?'

'I did doctor! Mrs Baldrige interrupted.

'Just as I thought the both of you are in collusion'.

'Why are we prisoners here?' Asked Miss Ashborough.

'That I would like to know as well,' said Dr Patterson.

'The both of you are free to go, but you do at the expense of losing your inheritance'.

'I don't care about the bloody inheritance. I rather live!' Miss Ashborough had screamed.

'I suggest that the both of you calm yourself. I shall have the driver Carl take you back into the village, where you can then leave the area'.

Miss Ashborough was about to enter the limousine, when Dr Patterson had told her to pause, 'Wait a moment'.

'Three persons have died here in vain. I think it is only just and befitting that you reveal the will to us now, in their memory'.

'If you insist. Then let us enter the castle and the Main Hall, where I can proceed to disclose the will and its inheritance'.

'That is a good idea!' Responded the doctor.

They had returned inside the castle and were seated in the Baroque chairs at the Main Hall, whereupon the solicitor began the procedure of the disclosure of the will. The guests had demanded that the procedure be brief and not long, considering what they had already endured during their time at the isolated castle. When Mr Barclay had finished, there was disbelief in the reaction of the two remaining guests. What had baffled them was that the only thing that either of them would inherit was the miserable castle itself, but it would belong to the lone guest that had survived the entire week of their present duration. Neither Dr Patterson nor Miss Ashborough could fathom such an inconceivable thing. They had come from so far away and had witnessed the terror that were the deaths of the others to have to inherit a haunting castle.

'That is all! You mean we came here to be given merely a castle as an inheritance?' Miss Ashborough rose the tone of her voice.

'I must agree with her. How are we to determine who lives or dies at the castle? Do you not realize the macabre nature of such perversion?' Dr Patterson professed.

'That is what was stipulated on the will. I am only a solicitor doing his job'.

'I demand that you tell us both who was Lord Abernathy truly?'

'I don't know that you want to know the truth'.

'I do!' Miss Ashborough blurted.

'So, do I! Dr Patterson said.

'He was a supercilious man, and a murderer who has lost his mind'.

'We are already aware of that truth, but I sense there is more to the story that you are not revealing, Mr Barclay.'

'How did you discover that painful truth?'

'I found some clippings from the articles of a newspaper that reported what had happened in this castle. He committed suicide!'

'I see!'

'What I want to know from you is who is haunting this bloody castle?' Miss Ashborough asked with consternation.

'Is it the evil spirit of the baron?' Dr Patterson enquired.

Before the solicitor could say another word, he would start to choke and fall on to the floor of the Main Hall. Miss Ashborough would panic, as the doctor was tending to the solicitor. He could not prevent him from choking to death. There was something invisible that was choking his neck. His hands were around his neck, as if he was attempting to fight off the aggression of his attacker. The image of his death was horrifying and disturbing. The commotion had caused Miss Ashborough to scurry out of the castle and unto the road, where she was struck by the limousine that was approaching the castle. She had died instantly. It would appear that it was not the speed of the limousine that had killed her, but the shock that had overcome her heart with the death of the solicitor. What was unusual was the fact that the driver Carl was not driving the limousine. He was inside the castle at the time speaking to Mrs Baldrige.

Dr Patterson would reenter the castle to confront Mrs Baldrige. She would be in the Main Hall standing beside, an image of a stranger seated, 'What in the devil's name is going on here? I demand you explain to me now Mrs Baldrige, who is this person?'

It was the image of a man dressed with a dark suit and trousers, with luculent dark shoes. He had an inimitable look in his eyes that glowed, with a red effervescence of malevolence.

Mrs Baldrige would proceed to introduce the stranger, 'Dr Patterson, may I present you Lord Abernathy'.

The revelation of the identity of the figure seated had dumbfounded the doctor, 'What are saying Mrs Baldrige? That can't be true!'

'It is true doctor!' She replied.

'How can that be even possible, if he is dead?'

'He is immortal doctor'.

She then pointed to the will that she had in her hand and told him to sign his name, so that he could be the rightful inheritor of the Abernathy Castle, 'All you have to do is sign, doctor!'

'Are you crazy? After all that has happened. You still think I am interested in this miserable castle?'

Dr Patterson began to walk outside of the Main Hall, but then had paused for a moment to reflect on his decision. The madness of the castle had affected him enough to commit the ultimate betrayal to the other deceased guests. He would walk towards the table where the will was prepared. What would occur next was baffling in its sequence of events. He would sign his name and surname on the bottom right-hand corner, where his signature was required. He was the last guest that had remained. Had he sold his soul to the vecordious devil that was seated in front of him? Whatever one dares to call it, he had sealed his immutable fate with the signature that he had provided. Perhaps immortality was far more rewarding than the mundane life that he was living, as a mere mortal. It would mean optimity.

'Now that you have signed doctor, you are the legitimate heir to the castle and the fortune of the baron. I know that you were told that you would only inherit the castle, but poor Mr Barclay did not know about the rest of the will'.

'And the ruby ring? What am I do to with it?'

'Keep it on, for it will make you more powerful than you can ever imagine'.

'If I could ask you one question Mrs Baldrige, why was Lord Abernathy not buried in the cemetery that I had seen on my way to the castle?'

'That is simple to answer. Because he was considered a heretic by the church, who had condemned him for his lustful acts and behaviour'.

'What greater sin is there than heresy?'

'None in the eyes of the church!'

'I suppose that this now makes me a heretic as well?'

'Indeed!' She said with a grin on her face.

From that day on, Dr Patterson was addressed as Lord Patterson by the loyal servants who were standing. His kinship which was linked by way of his maternal side was solidified, with the acquisition of his new title. He would remain in the castle as the new laird to be served. As for the other guests that had died there tragically, they would be soon forgotten. Their deaths were reported as accidental. The rooms in which they had stayed were cleaned, and no visible trace of their existence was to be kept. Their memory there at the castle was completely effaced, and their unfortunate souls were retained in a dark urn to be forever trapped. Legend says that the immortal spirit of Lord Abernathy roams the nearby forest and village, searching for new victims to terrorise with his sinful perversion.

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Franc68
Lorient Montaner
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29 Mar, 2024
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